Indian Transport & Logistics

Cathay Pacific 2021 cargo revenue up 32% on better yields

We are committed to keeping people and cargo safely moving: Cathay chairman Patrick Healy

Cathay Pacific 2021 cargo revenue up 32% on better yields

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific reported a 32 percent increase in cargo revenue to HK$32.4 billion ($4.2 billion) in 2021 on better yields and increased load factor.

Load factor increased by 8.1 percentage points to 81.4 percent. While cargo carried was almost flat at 1.33 million tonnes in 2021, cargo yield increased 33 percent to HK$3.94 from HK$2.96 in 2020. Cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTK) declined over 1 percent, and capacity, measured by available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTK), dropped 11 percent.

Total revenue was down marginally to HK$ 42.2 billion ($5.5 billion), and adjusted loss for Cathay Pacific shareholders declined to HK$4.5 billion ($585 million) from HK$15.2 billion ($2 billion).

"Cargo demand grew ahead of the traditional peak season in the second half of the year," says Patrick Healy, Chairman, Cathay Pacific Group. "In the months leading up to the end of 2021, we operated our freighter fleet at peak capacity, and supplemented our cargo capacity with additional cargo-only passenger flight operations. We also operated six of our Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft that have been partially converted into "preighters" by removing some of the seats in the passenger cabins to provide additional cargo-carrying capacity. In October, we carried more than 136,000 tonnes of cargo – the most we have carried in a single month since the start of Covid-19. Our airlines have carried more than 190 million Covid-19 vaccines."

Following the emergence of the Omicron variant, the HKSAR Government tightened the quarantine requirements for Hong Kong-based aircrew, notably those operating cargo flights, and temporarily banned all flights from nine countries, including the UK and the US, which are major markets for us, Healy said. "Passengers from high-risk places were banned from transiting through Hong Kong International Airport. All this constrained our ability to operate flights as planned. As a result, we expect to operate around 2% of pre-Covid-19 passenger flight capacity, and our cargo flight capacity is likely to remain less than one-third of pre-Covid-19 levels while current restrictions remain in place. We are trying our best to maintain our passenger and cargo networks as far as possible and will try to increase our cargo capacity as much as practicable.

"As Hong Kong's home airline, we are resolutely committed to keeping the flow of people and cargo between Hong Kong and the rest of the world safely moving, and to protecting and enhancing the city's aviation hub status despite the challenging circumstances presented by Covid-19."

Cargo business launches in 2021
*A new scheduled freighter service between Hong Kong and Riyadh in January to meet the strong demand for shipments of e-commerce and other general cargo such as garments.

*First Asian air-cargo carrier to offer the Envirotainer Releye RLP for carriage on its aircraft fleet, adding to its extensive cool-chain options for customers with temperature-sensitive shipments.

*Launched Ultra Track, a next-generation track-and-trace system that monitors shipment information including temperature, GPS location and humidity using Bluetooth technology.

*October saw 78 sectors operated by our converted preighters while November saw operations of 1,035 pairs of cargo-only passenger flights – both record-high numbers.

*Launched a new digital booking platform, Click & Ship, progressively across the network.

Received IATA's CEIV Live Animal Certification in December, affirming commitment to continuously improve standards for carrying sensitive cargo.

Fleet position
At the end of 2021, Cathay Pacific had 193 aircraft (including 14 Cathay Dragon aircraft that are either pending to be reassigned to Cathay Pacific and HK Express or to be lease returned or retired), HK Express had 27 aircraft and Air Hong Kong had 14 aircraft (a total of 234 aircraft). "Given current conditions, approximately 37 percent of our passenger aircraft are parked in locations outside of Hong Kong in keeping with prudent operational and asset-management considerations." Cathay Pacific took delivery of six new aircraft in 2021 and HK Express took delivery of one new aircraft in 2021.

The Group reported cargo revenue of HK$35.8 billion ($4.6 billion) and total revenue of HK$45.6 billion ($5.9 billion).

Jyothi Shankaran

Jyothi Shankaran

Associate Editor, STAT Media Group. He has worked with IndiaSpend, Bloomberg TV, Business Standard and Indian Express Group. Jyothi can be reached at

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